This is the eleventh post in a weekly series of blog posts I will be writing to document my experience in CS327E, Elements of Databases, for the Elements of Computing Program at The University of Texas at Austin.
Check out my previous week’s blog post.
Monday, April 1
The crunch is on, project #4 is due on Wednesday and our group is having some disfunction. I’m trying my best to keep pushing forward despite the issues, but this week I am being bogged down with makeup work I missed from last week during the Festival. I take the makeup Test #2 for this class tomorrow. I’m a little nervous considering I missed all of last week. After tomorrow afternoon I’ll be able to focus on the project and then I’m looking forward to the weekend, the first weekend I’ll have completely off in a long time, though I’m sure I’ll start worrying about updating my online portfolio to start applying for jobs after college. I can’t believe it’s been three years. While I’m so ready to get into the working world, I am a little nervous. I’ve only ever known school. Sure I’ve had experience at internships, but I’ve always come back to school for more semesters of learning. It will be quite interesting to not have that to come back to. Real life, here I come!
Wednesday, April 3
Project 4 was originally due today, earlier in the afternoon Professor Downing extended the deadline to tomorrow. I’m very grateful our team would not have met the deadline. We had some group dynamic issues, mainly related to team members not pulling their weight so we were a little behind. Today the group pulled together and we have all been working remotely on the requirements. I spent most of the afternoon/evening working on the import python file (which is sitting just over 1000 lines in length presently) which parses the XML file and imports the data into our database. I wrote the schema for our DB, I’m about 90% sure I have it to third normal form, but I am positive it’s for sure 1st normal form. I had a lovely discussion on Piazza with a fellow classmate about not trying to put multiple values into a single column attribute, a direct violation of 1st normal form. In other news I got back my second test yesterday, and it is less than what I wanted. I got a nearly perfect score on the code writing section, but did poorly on the multiple choice. I talked about this briefly on an early blog entry, but I don’t feel that multiple choice really tests you on anything in computer science. The part of coding and computer science that I really like is that there are a million different ways to arrive at the right solution, and it’s very clear if your solution works or doesn’t. An open ended question where you write code, in my opinion tests a person’s understanding of concepts much more effectively than a multichoice, pick the code fragment that does what the question asks. For me when I attempt to answer those multichoice questions its very common that the answers don’t fit into the way I think. You get four code fragments that have minimal changes between them and you have to identify which one doesn’t do exactly what is desired. To me that’s a picky syntax question. Yes syntax is important, but when I can write my own code fragment (as I usually do on these questions) that I know solves the problem, but isn’t one of the answer choices, then I get worried and start questioning the syntax and logic behind my code, and inevitably choose the wrong answer. Anyway, despite my less than ideal test grade, it’s clear I have room for improvement. I’m looking forward to seeing the test, so I can see what multichoice questions I missed.
Friday, April 5
We had a wonderful presentation on MongoDB from a rep at 10 Gen, the MongoDB Company. The main focus was how MongoDB as a NoSQL Database was different from Relational Databases. Despite already being familiar with NoSQL databases, it was really great to hear from an industry professional!
— Taylor McCaslin (@Taylor4484) April 5, 2013
In other news, our team finished Project #4 yesterday. I’ve very happy with our solution, however at over 1000 lines of Python and SQL code, I’m not sure it’s the most efficient. I’m very curious to see other team’s solutions, I’m hoping to arrange a code review with a few other teams so we can all evaluate each other’s code and see what is most effective for solving this problem of getting XML data into a relational database.